Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2016

Suppressed Sex Hormone Biosynthesis by Alkylresorcinols: A Possible Link to Chemoprevention

Oskarsson, Agneta; Ohlsson Andersson, Åsa


Alkylresorcinols (ARs, 5-n-alkylresorcinols) are amphiphilic phenolic lipids in whole grain rye and wheat, with a long odd-numbered carbon chain. A preventive effect of whole grain diet on sex hormone-dependent cancers has been recognized, but the active component(s) or mechanisms are not known. We have investigated the effects of the ARs C15:0, C19:0, and C21:0, individually and in combination, on steroid hormone production by using the human adrenocortical cell line H295R. Decreased synthesis of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), testosterone, and estradiol was demonstrated at low concentrations of C15:0 and C19:0. There were no indications of additive effects on steroid secretion from the combined treatment with equimolar concentrations of the three ARs. Gene expressions of CYP21A2, HSD3B2, and CYP19A1 were downregulated and CYP11A1 was upregulated by the ARs. The results on gene expression could not explain the effects on steroidogenesis, which may be due to direct effects on enzyme activities, such as inhibition of CYP17A1. Our results demonstrate suppressed synthesis of testosterone and estradiol by ARs suggesting a novel mechanism for ARs in the chemoprevention of prostate and breast cancer.

Published in

Nutrition and Cancer
2016, Volume: 68, number: 6, pages: 978-987